X-Force (1st series) #51

Issue Date: 
February 1996
Story Title: 
Reflections in the Night

Jeph Loeb (writer), Luciano Lima (penciler), Hunt, Jones, Quijana & Russell (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letterers), Tom Vincent (colorist), Ben Raab (assistant editor), Bob Harras (editor)

Brief Description: 

Night time, Cable and Bishop investigate Sabretooth’s escape from the Danger Room, and Bishop makes allegations that Boomer was lying in her statement as to what really happened, but Cable backs his team member up, causing friction between the two, which Storm is forced to end. Shatterstar is being examined by the Beast, who tries to find some information on Shatterstar’s parents, except that Shatterstar has no memories of them. When questioned by Cable as to why he is doing this instead of checking for any residue left over by Shaw’s mental manipulations, the Beast reveals that Shatterstar’s DNA matches that of Longshot, which should be impossible. Gambit is startled when Siryn screams the wall of her quarters down. Gambit checks on her, and discovers that she did it in her sleep. Confused, Siryn remembers that she was having a dream where she was held against her will - and Deadpool was there. Sunspot and Caliban have a discussion about what makes a person who they are, while in her quarters, Boomer begins destroying all her belongings with plasma time-bombs. Cannonball tries to get her to let him in, but she refuses, and begins to cut her hair. Elsewhere, Warpath has been testing out his new powers en route to the meeting place where he was asked to meet via the National Council of Indian Affairs. He is soon attacked by a mysterious woman. When he confronts her, he discovers that she has powers, and is confused when she kisses him, telling him to remember “Risque”, before vanishing. The next morning, Cannonball, Cable and Warpath try to talk to Boomer together, and are startled when she exits her room, sporting short hair, a remodelled costume, and calling herself “Meltdown”.

Full Summary: 

After midnight at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. ‘No, what I said was - “Her story doesn’t add up”!’ declares Bishop, of the X-Men as he examines the destruction in the Danger Room, where a crime has been committed - a tragedy has occurred - a murderer has escaped. While his teammates hunt down the dangerous fugitive, Bishop is attempting to put together the pieces of this most disturbing puzzle. Bishop is a time-displaced peace-keeper from a future less than a century from now. At his side, hampering the investigation to the best of his abilities, is another time-displaced hero, Cable.

Ororo “Storm” Munroe watches from the Danger Room control room, as Cable a.k.a. Nathan Summers asks Bishop if what he is saying is that Boomer lied to them. Cable warns Bishop that when he questions the word of an X-Force member, then he hears about it from him. ‘Indeed?’ Bishop replies, before reminding him for the eleventh time that, according to Boomer, Sabretooth got free first, she tried to stop him, and then Psylocke was almost fatally injured. Bishop adds that since Psylocke is unable to tell her story for the moment, he feels he must examine every facet of Creed’s escape.

Bishop picks up the restraints that Victor “Sabretooth” Creed was held in, and remarks that it looks as if they were shattered from the outside - from an energy burst. Cable grits his teeth and looks Bishop square in the face, ‘Whatever you’re thinking, don’t go there’ he warns him, declaring that he stands by Boomer’s story. Bishop suggests to Cable that he take a step back from him, ‘Or what “friend”?’ Cable retorts, when suddenly, a burst of lightning separates the two, courtesy of Storm.

Storm declares that the conversation ends now, pointing out that it’s late and they are al understandably on edge. Ororo points out that whatever with Sabretooth - and the aftermath - was a tragedy but she will not allow it to create an even greater schism in this house. Though she wields power over the elements, Storm’s greatest power comes from her stature and sense of authority. Storm turns to Nathan and remarks that he seems unusually defensive about Bishop’s suspicions. ‘Can it be - on some level - you share them?’ Ororo asked.

Cable grits his teeth again and replies that Boomer told them her story, and he cannot accept she would lie to them. Bishop begins to tell about a similar case he worked on with the X.S.E., which Cable interrupts, exclaiming that he knows about the security forces that trained him. ‘Everybody in the house does’. Cable them excuses himself, and as he leaves, Storm turns to Bishop and remarks that Cable is afraid. ‘He should be’ Bishop replies. ‘For if we begin lying to each other, what hope do we have?’.

Meanwhile, upstairs, a photo of Tabitha Smith a.k.a. Boomer in happier times, alongside her then New Mutants teammates Cannonball, Mirage, Sunspot and Warlock sits on a dresser - then goes up in flames as Boomer destroys it, along with most other items in her room with a plasma-charged time bomb. Tabitha’s life has never been easy, and by being part of X-Force, she has found a way to improve herself. Since joining the New Mutants she has changed her name from “Boom-Boom” to “Boomer” and designed her costume over and over again, until eventually it became more conservative.

Tabitha even went as far as falling in love with X-Force’s former deputy leader, her long-time teammate, the straight-as-an-arrow Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie, who recently graduated to the X-Men - something that upset Tabitha very much. Tabitha looks at a teddy bear, ‘Three…two…’ she begins as she lights up a time bomb.

Elsewhere in the mansion, in the medi-lab, X-Force’s Shatterstar yawns, telling the X-Men’s Beast a.k.a. Dr. Hank McCoy that they have been over and over this. ‘Humor me, then’ Beast replies. Lying back on the examination table, Shatterstar replies that he doesn’t understand, remarking that there is nothing “humorous” about this. ‘Ah, yes. Your “difficulty” with idioms. I keep forgetting’ Hank remarks, before asking Shatterstar to close his eyes and try to remember the very first memory he is able to.

Shatterstar does as asked, and, unaware that Cable is watching from an observation booth, reveals that he sees bloodshed and warfare - the war-torn planet that was his home-world. ‘What’s this about?’ Cable wonders to himself, before the Beast asks Shatterstar about his parents. ‘My parents…they…wait…you have this information!’ Shatterstar replies, to which Hank replies ‘No. Tell me the first thing that popped into your head’. Shatterstar replies that it was nothing, remarking that he was a bio-engineered warrior on his world, and that memories of any ancestral breeding were regarded as unnecessary.

Cable telepathically calls out to Beast, ‘I want to speak with you now!’ he orders, so Hank excuses himself from Shatterstar, leaping over the table, to which Shatterstar thinks to himself that people come and go in the strangest ways around here. In the observation room, the Beast tells Cable that he is not used to having his examinations interrupted by a very loud telepathic outburst and suggests that he go to Professor X for some lessons in subtlety. Cable reminds the Beast that he asked him to give the X-Force team a once-over to determine if Shaw left some post-hypnotic orders that he has to worry about.

Shatterstar stands at the window to the observation room, watching Cable and the Beast argue as Nathan asks Hank how asking Shatterstar about his past is going to him. The Beast replies that something about Shatterstar’s background doesn’t quite fit, remarking that his DNA sample, matches the records they have on the former X-Man, Longshot - exactly, which is of course not physically possible. Cable suggests that perhaps their race is far more different than either of them realize, and shouts that all he wants to know about is Shaw. ‘You have to let me -’ Hank begins, until Nathan interrupts, snapping that he is late for a meeting and doesn’t have time for this. Cable leaves the room, leaving a gape-jawed Hank behind as he tells him to stick to the matter at hand.

Meanwhile, on the mansion roof, Remy “Gambit” LeBeau of the X-Men sits, leaning against the chimney. He has a world of trouble on his mind and has come to think, and perhaps find a way out. But the silence of the night is shattered by the sonic wail of X-Force’s new deputy leader Theresa “Siryn” Rourke Cassidy, who suddenly knocks her entire bedroom wall down. Without a moment’s hesitation, Gambit swings down from the roof, and leaps into Siryn’s quarters, for, as always, he can forget his troubles by escaping back into a world that he is all too familiar with - a world of unknown danger.

Gambit sees that Theresa is still asleep in her bed, and quickly goes over to her, placing a hand over her mouth, he wakes her, telling her not to scream again. Siryn is shocked to see Gambit, and sits straight up, asking Gambit what he is doing in her bedroom. This is not the first time Gambit has been asked that question by a woman, but certainly never before under these circumstances. ‘Would you believe I heard a woman scream - and came to her rescue?’ Gambit replies.

Siryn half-grins, telling Gambit that he can’t be serious, as she was asleep when he came here. ‘Oui. And in your sleep, you screamed. The proof is right before you’ Gambit remarks, motioning to the gaping hole in Siryn’s room. Siryn gets out of bed and goes over to the destruction, in disbelief, she exclaims that she is always in control of her power. Gambit asks her if she could have been dreaming, to which Siryn replies that she remembers, and it was a terrible dream. ‘I’d been held against my will. And someone else was there…Deadpool? Siryn whispers, looking as if she is about to cry. A mystery for another time….

Elsewhere, the Highway between Westchester and New York, where at 3.30AM, not a lot happens, so, for the local sheriff’s department, it is as good a place as any to catch forty winks or so, like two police officers are doing right now. Suddenly, a speedometer wakes the officers, alerting them to something approaching them, and very fast at that. Staring out their window, they see a large figure, but no car. ‘Hi sheriff. Bye sheriff’ grins James “Warpath” Proudstar as he races past them.

All the time he was growing up on the Apache Indian reservation, James heard stories about his older brother’s power. How his brother, the short-lived, no deceased X-Man known as Thunderbird, could outrun the buffalo and still have the strength to bring one of them down. Up until recently, Warpath never displayed that kind of ability. ‘Weird’, he thinks to himself. ‘I must be moving at close to a hundred. And I can see as if it were daytime. What is happening?’ he wonders.

James wonders if this is what the Mimic was raving about when he was babbling about his powers. Looking off into the distance, James sees New York City and thinks that it is unbelievable he has ran this far. James wonders what it is he is doing here, recalling that he received a message through the National Council of Indian Affairs: “Someone has to meet me; it’s a matter of life and death”. James recalls that the woman refused to leave her name, and wanted to meet her in this junkyard of all places. ‘Weird’ he thinks to himself, looking around, unaware, that somewhere in the darkness, a woman giggles.

Back at the Institute, Cannonball stands outside Boomer’s door, asking her to open up. ‘I can’t believe you wont let your own boyfriend in!’ he exclaims. Inside the room, Tabitha sits in front of a shattered mirror, slumped over, with a pair of scissors in her hands, she tells Sam to go away. ‘Don’t you have any X-Men you can play with?’ she asks. Sam tells Tabitha to listen to her and informs her that he has spoken with the hospital, and that they have upgraded her father’s condition from critical to serious. ‘You checked on my Daddy?’ Tabitha asks as she begins cutting off her hair.

Sam replies that he is concerned about Tabitha’s father, but that mostly he is concerned about her. ‘Don’t be’ Tabitha replies, tossing a small time-bomb through the keyhole of her room, impacting with Sam, it knocks him backwards across the hallway. Continuing to cut her hair, Tabitha exclaims that she has never felt better in her life.

In another part of the mansion, Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta smiles, in the privacy of his quarters, he is happy, and hums a melody which is somehow familiar. What Bobby doesn’t know though, is that the melody won’t be created - until two thousand years from now. Bobby hovers upside down, while his teammate, the Morlock known as Caliban asks him what he is doing. Bobby replies that he doesn’t know. ‘Caliban does not understand’ the simple-minded Morlock replies. ‘How can someone who is doing the thing he is doing - no know why he is doing it?’.

Sunspot replies that what is scary is the fact he is actually going to try and explain it to Caliban, and declares that, lately, and increasingly, he has been aware of a language - a whole new way of thinking that is new to him, something he absorbed from Cable. Bobby adds that it is similar to when he thinks in his native Portuguese, and not in English. ‘I do it without thinking about it’ Bobby remarks, asking Caliban if he understand that. ‘Ummm…no’ Caliban replies, scratching his head.

Sunspot explains that language is very important, as it defines a person in many ways. Sunspot asks Caliban why he always refers to himself as “Caliban this” or “Caliban that”. Caliban grins and replies ‘Because that is Caliban’s name!’. Sunspot tells Caliban that the way he should say it is “It is my name”. Caliban rubs his head, ‘”Sunspot” is Sunspot’s name! Maybe Sunspot should not spend so much time upside down!’ Caliban replies matter-of-factly.

Back near New York, at the junkyard full of cars, Warpath thinks to himself that, after everything that happened with Shaw, they all have to keep their guard up. He wonders if perhaps coming here was not such a good idea, and admits that he was half-hoping Siryn was playing a game on him, when, suddenly, there is an explosion behind him, burying James in some car debris. A woman stands nearby and thinks to herself ‘Oh, no, I hope I haven’t killed him!’, when, suddenly, James bursts out from under the debris, his costume torn, he shouts ‘Whoever you are - you won’t find me that easy of a target!’.

Seeing a figure standing in the shadows, Warpath tosses some rubble in her direction, ‘And if you want a piece of me - I’ll give you the fight of your life!’ he warns her. The mysterious woman stands in awe as the two-ton of crushed car is thrown at her with blinding speed, but, to Warpath’s surprise, the woman meets the challenge head on, “catching” the debris above her by stopping it’s gravity, then imploding it so that it becomes about the size of an apple.

The woman then somersaults over to Warpath, landing right in front of him, she address him by name, then tells him that she didn’t mean to hurt him. ‘I only wanted to meet you’ she claims. Then, leaning into him, she rests her lips just off his, ‘And give you something to remember me by’ she whispers, before somersaulting away from James. ‘Who -?’ Warpath exclaims, but the woman replies ‘Now, don’t forget me, James. Don’t forget…”Risque”…’.

Dawn, and like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that fit so delicately together, Cable bears the burden of responsibility for each member of his team. As tonight has shown him once again, these young men and women have identities and with them, their own crises and triumphs. But, it is a burden Cable must shoulder, knowing how far X-Force still has to go to achieve it’s potential.

Pulling up outside the mansion in his jeep, Cable sees James leaning against a pillar at the front entrance and asks him what he is doing. James replies that he is watching the sun come up and remarks that it has been a very strange night. ‘Must have been - I don’t remember Siryn wearing that shade of lipstick’ Cable replies. ‘She didn’t - I mean -’ James begins to reply, when he’s suddenly interrupted by Cannonball, who rushes out onto the porch, urgently telling Cable that he is pleased he is back, and exclaiming that he thinks they have a real problem with Boomer.

Warpath wipes Risque’s lipstick off his mouth, while Cable asks ‘Now, what?’, before Nathan, Sam and James go upstairs to Boomer’s quarters. Cable orders her to open the door immediately, to which Boomer calls back ‘Or you’ll huff and you’ll puff and you’ll blow my house in?’. The door opens slowly, and Cable tells Boomer that if she needs to talk then - Cable stops talking and the three men go wide-eyed as Tabitha steps out, wearing a modified, more svelte uniform, and with her scraggly blonde hair now cut very short.

With a time-bomb hovering above her hand, and smoke from all the plasma fires she created in her room, Tabitha grins, exclaiming ‘From now on…it’s not “Boomer”…or “Boom Boom”…or “Tabitha”…or “Tabby”…the lady’s name is MELTDOWN! Anybody got a problem with that?’.

Characters Involved: 

Boomer / Meltdown II, Cable, Caliban, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath (all X-Force)

Cannonball (former member of X-Force, current member of the X-Men)


Beast, Bishop, Gambit, Storm (all X-Men)

Police Officers

In Photograph

Boom-Boom, Cannonball, Mirage, Sunspot, Warlock (all New Mutants)

Story Notes: 

Sabretooth gutted Psylocke in Uncanny X-Men #328.

Sebastian Shaw had Tessa mind-control most of X-Force against Cable in X-Force (1st series) #50.

Warpath encountered the Mimic in X-Force (1st series) #46, during which Mimic commented on Warpath’s unused powers.

Boomer’s father was injured in an explosion caused by Holocaust in X-Force (1st series) #49.

This issue marks the first appearance of Risque. She will be a supporting character of X-Force until pretty much issue #100, before being killed off-panel as mentioned in the New X-Men Annual 2001.

The original Meltdown was a one-time character from the Havok/Wolverine: Meltdown limited series.

Issue Information: 
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